Samsung Galaxy S5 Preview – What’s New and What’s Not

Ultra Power Efficient

The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a unique Ultra Power Saving Mode that turns the display to black and white, and shuts down all unnecessary features to minimize battery consumption.There are smartphones and then there are Galaxy S phones. This series of phones, in just a matter of a few years, has gained popularity like no other series ever has. The Samsung Galaxy S4 was amongst the best selling phones of 2013, and not surprisingly, as the new year approached, eyes were all set on the next successor to the throne, the S5. Rumor mills were running nonstop ever since the company launched the Note 3―towards the end of 2013. There were talks of a revolutionary approach from the company in designing the ultimate smartphone of the year. The Internet was flooded with leaked images and concept images of what is undoubtedly, the most-awaited smartphone of the year.

Expectations began to crescendo as the launch day approached. The stage was set, and the Mobile World Congress 2014, at Barcelona, served as the perfect platform for the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5, on February 24. So, did the phone live up to all the hype and expectations, or did it turn out to be a total dampener? Well, here’s taking a look at the good and not-so-good features of the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Key Features

  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Heart rate monitor
  • IP67 rating (water- and dust-resistant)
  • Runs Android v4.4.2 KitKat out of the box
  • Great 16 MP camera
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Fantastic display (432 ppi)

Main Drawbacks

  • Monotonous design
  • Rather large for one-handed use
  • No QHD display


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Dimensions 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm Weight 145 g Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 GPU Adreno 330 RAM 2 GB Storage 16 GB internal storageMicro SD card slot(up to 128 GB) Screen 5.1″ Full HD Super AMOLED(~432 ppi pixel density) CameraPrimary/Secondary 16 MP/2 MP OS Android v4.4.2 KitKat Battery 2,800 mAh Li-ion

Design and Construction

If you’ve seen one galaxy, you’ve seen them all!

The phone retains the polycarbonate body of its predecessor but brings in IP67-rated (water- and dust-resistant) construction into the picture. The S5 has dimensions of 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm, and weighs in at 145 g. At first glace, the phone looks like a cross between the S4 Active and a scaled-down version of the Note 3. The front of the phone is taken up by the screen. Samsung’s signature Home button that sits just below the screen, flanked by the capacitive Back and App switcher buttons, while above the screen is the earpiece grille, the sensors, and the secondary camera for video calling. A metal strip runs around the sides of the phone giving it a premium look. Speaking of the sides, to the left is the volume rocker, while the power/lock key is to the right. At the top is the 3.5 mm audio jack to the right, and the IR blaster and the secondary mic for noise cancellation to the left. At the bottom is the main microphone and a USB 3.0 port that is hidden under a watertight flap. The back of the S5 has a perforated faux-leather finish, similar to that found on the Nexus # The back itself is removable and provides access to the Micro SD card slot and the micro SIM slot. Also at the back, is the camera which bulges out a little, below which is the LED flash, and a revolutionary heart rate sensor. The speaker sits beneath a metal grille towards the bottom-left. In addition to the usual sensors, the S5 also packs a humidity and temperature sensor.Buzz Rating:The Samsung Galaxy S5 is not exactly mirror-cracking material, nor is it the prettiest phone around; it simply is another member of the Galaxy family, and it certainly looks its part. We love the IP67 rating of the phone, and it sure is surprisingly light for the hardware that it packs. Our only regret, as has been ever since the S3, is that it simply looks way too ordinary. In fact, purely from the design point of view, this phone barely brings anything new into the picture. The bronze-colored version especially, looks an awful lot like a band-aid! Having said that though, we must admit that the company surely has no reason to ‘fix what is not broken.’ Once you come to terms with the all-plastic body, the S5 feels rather good in the hand, although we wish it were just a tad smaller. The good news here is that it doesn’t feel as cheap in the hand as its predecessor.

Hardware and Storage

Powerful processor and all the storage space in the world.

The S5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and a quad core Krait 400 processor overclocked at 2.5 GHz. 2 GB of RAM ensures that multitasking is a breeze. The phone comes with 16 GB of internal memory and also has a Micro SD card slot (up to 128 GB). The S5 brings in the entire connectivity package like 5th-gen Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 2X2 MIMO, LTE category 4, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE / ANT+, NFC, etc.

Buzz Rating:

The phone is powered by an extremely powerful processor which featured in the flagships of last year. The overclocking helps it, just about, get its nose ahead of the other phones in the market today. Qualcomm has already released its latest processor, the Snapdragon 805, but considering it would be a while before this shows up on a phone, it is safe to say that, this is currently one of the most powerful devices out there. We can’t complain about the RAM as most apps barely use about 1 GB of RAM, and 3 GB (like the one on the Note 3) is an overkill. The ample internal storage along with the massive 128 GB expandable option should have you covered at least till the next big thing comes around.

Graphics and Display

Ultra-saturated AMOLED screen.

The gorgeous 5.1-inch full HD Super AMOLED screen with a pixel density of about 432 ppi is one of the most beautiful ones around. It, however, isn’t exactly all too stellar under direct sunlight. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 ensures that the most nasty scratches stay away from the display. The large screen is great for viewing images and watching movies. Graphics are handled by the capable Adreno 330 GPU.

Buzz Rating:

We love the screen on the S5, although we must admit, like most other AMOLED screens, it is not the brightest around. When it comes to contrasts though, the IPS screens don’t really match up to the deep blacks on AMOLED screens. Having said that, we must say that the screen on the LG G2 looks a lot better than this one here. This is mainly because of the superb, almost-bezel-free screen on the G2. This, unfortunately, is not a luxury that the S5 can afford, mainly because of its water-resistant construction. Let’s put it this way, this is hands down the most beautiful screen under a dark cloud in the rain!

Camera and Optics

One of the best cameras on an Android phone.

The phone comes with a 16 MP snapper at the back. It features a bigger 16:9 sensor than that found on the S4. The camera comes with loads of software tweaks including HDR mode, touch focus, panorama, geo-tagging, etc. The company also claims that at just 0.3 seconds, the S5 has the fastest autofocus around. The highlight of the camera and one of the phone’s USPs, is its 2160p video-recording abilities at 30fps. It also comes with digital image stabilization. There’s also a 2 MP camera, which does a good job of taking self-portraits and making video calls. There are plenty of software tweaks thrown into the mix, but the Selective Focus feature truly stands out. Much like the Nokia Refocus app, this software lets you change the focus of an image after it has been captured.

Buzz Rating:

This is one fantastic camera on a phone, second only to the mighty Lumia 1520, and more or less at par with the Xperia Z1. UHD video recording is an excellent feature on the phone, making it part of a very elite group. Our only complaint is the lack of OIS on board, which would have made this phone even better.

Software and Customizations

KitKat and a Magazine to go with it.

The S5 runs on Android v4.4.2 KitKat with the latest TouchWiz on top. The icons are a lot flatter now, much like what we saw on the Galaxy Pro tablets. There’s also the much-hyped Magazine UI which collates all your news feeds and other notifications in Flipboard-esque style. It cannot be disabled and occupies on of the home screens, much like HTC’s BlinkFeed. The drop-down notification bar gets two new buttons – S Finder and Quick Connect.

Another major USP of the S5 is the fingerprint sensor that is integrated into the Home button (we sense another Apple lawsuit coming Samsung’s way!). Unlike the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s, you can simply swipe on the Home button and unlock your device. You can even use it as a password to secure your private data on the phone. Samsung has collaborated with PayPal, and with the S5, you can now validate transactions from your PayPal account with just your fingerprint.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is being marketed as a fitness-centric device, and brings in a unique heart rate sensor. You need to place your finger on the sensor just below the camera at the back, and the phone will display your heart rate. Apart from the various fitness apps on board, the S5 also syncs your data with the recently launched smartwatches, the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit. Apart from these, the phone also brings in advanced gesture support.

Buzz Rating:

This is probably one of the most feature-loaded smartphones ever. We are pleasantly surprised by the hardware and software tweaks brought in by Samsung, although we aren’t big fans of fingerprint sensors, and we find them rather gimmicky. The company has gone all out to promote this as the perfect fitness companion for an active lifestyle.

Battery Life

Look for the charger before dusk!

The phone packs a 2,800 mAh Li-ion battery. The battery itself is removable and is touted to have a standby time of 390 hrs. and a talk time of 21 hrs. It should just about last you an entire day of moderate use on a single charge. The phone does not support wireless charging out of the box, but we may soon see a Qi-charging-enabled back cover being sold separately.

Buzz Rating:

One of the biggest disappointments about the S4 was its abysmal battery life. It is a pity that Samsung have once again chosen to ignore this aspect. Although the phone now comes with a slightly bumped-up battery than its predecessor, it also brings in a larger screen and loads of other hardware and software tweaks which can drain your phone’s battery in no time. The only solace we have is that the battery can be replaced with a spare one, although we aren’t thrilled at the thought of carrying a spare battery around in our pockets.

Final Words

The Samsung Galaxy S5 leaves us feeling rather bitter-sweet. We’ve forever hoped and prayed that Samsung would finally give up on plastic-bodied phones (and a fair amount of their profits!), and focus on a phone with a premium construction. The company, while continuing its romance with plastic, have given us some reason to cheer with a water- and dust-resistant phone. The heart rate sensor is a real nice touch, and it might well turn out to be a masterstroke from the company, although it seems more like a gimmick than anything else (you can now prove to your love just how your heart starts racing at her sight!) The jury is still out on the usefulness of the fingerprint sensor, but all would agree that it is a novel feature to have. The S5 comes up trumps in all other aspects, right from the impressive camera to the beautiful Magazine UI, and some rather useful software tweaks. While it is true that the Galaxy S5 is a far cry from the pretty picture painted by the many rumors that were doing the rounds until the last minute of the phone’s launch, we have to admit that Samsung have once again pulled a rabbit out of the hat and got a winner on their hands.

Value for Money

For those looking to get their hands on this amazing phone, it should be available with most carriers in April. It would probably carry a price tag of USD 199 on a 2-year contract. The Samsung Galaxy S5 will, undoubtedly, go on to sell millions, and set new sales records, but it would also leave millions of people hoping and praying that the king of the mobile world would show us its ‘metal’ sooner than later. For all those who are left with a broken heart after seeing the S5, we would just like to sing, Somewhere over the rainbow … dreams really do come true. We would love to hear your opinion about the S5, through the comments section provided below.

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